The School of Public Life
Doormats No. 4
By Fred Dewey.
Drawing on two decades of interventions in politics and culture, Fred Dewey's The School of Public Life records the author's efforts to revive and rethink public space from Los Angeles to Berlin and beyond. Drawing on manifestoes, lectures, letters and experimental texts, the book chronicles one person's efforts to secure a space for public reality, culture, appearance and power. From helping to found neighborhood councils in Los Angeles to directing Beyond Baroque, a public space for poetry, art, sound work, publishing and debate, featuring discussions of the 1992 LA riots, Black Mountain College and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Dewey recounts a lived experience of self-government face to face with the rise of manufactured reality and an unknown political history. How can we answer the falsehoods of economics, parties and a new slavery of constructed powerlessness? Working from the examples of Hannah Arendt, poet Charles Olson, writer John Berger, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. and others, Dewey's account of life experiences and thinking, public gesture proposes a new kind of school, one powerful enough to address all our conditions-a school for the people and their life.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
Dewey’s concerns are with the abolition of public life and self-governance, the disappearance of politics, the creation of fictions, and the “organization of unreality” that dominates and subjugates our lives. But rather than simply describing these things, The School of Public Life enacts its own propositions, leading us through actual situations from which we might learn practical approaches to regain our own powers as political actors... This is unquestionably an important book.